Saturday, November 27, 2010

Megamind: Some Quick Thoughts

Megamind is the new animated feature from Dreamworks, a smart superhero spoof where the villain is the main character. If you were bothered in any way by The Incredibles borrowing from the Fantastic Four, than brace yourself for Megamind, cause from just the opening credits it more than just borrows from Superman mythos.
Say what?!

In fact there is no getting around it. Brad Pitt's Metroman is Superman while Tina Fey's Roxanne Ritchi is Lois Lane. Though Will Ferrell's MegaMind is a bald super genius who squanders his gifts on a pointless obsession with defeating the super hero, he turns out to be a more sympathetic character than Lex Luthor. In fact, MegaMind reminds me a lot of Peter Parker, only without a kindly old uncle he learns amazing life lessons from, and inadvertently kills. Megamind is a nerdy outcast who resorts to villainy not because he's really evil, but because it's the only way for him to get attention. It becomes his role to be the enemy of the hero, but when he actually succeeds, he finds himself reevaluating what his life is all about. It's Jonah Hill's Tighten who, while being reminiscent to Jimmy Olsen, shows a much more real and scary type of villainy: lazy, selfish, and entitled with way too much power. The themes in this movie are pretty obvious and heavy handed. While it does have some fantastic sequences and some interesting ideas, it is a pretty predictable story. I'm sure you can probably guess how it ends, but it is fun getting there. The animation is fantastic, of course, and the voice acting is all top notch. I should mention David Cross' Minion just because he has some great lines and David Cross is awesome in everything.
He would have been perfect as Megamind, himself.

Overall, it's a fun but predictable movie, I give it a B+.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Comic Movies of 2011

Summer is the time for the comic book movie, and next summer we get three big ones: Thor, Captain America, and Green Lantern. Thor and Captain America are from Marvel, and are particularly notable because they are crucial to piecing together the upcoming Avengers movie, which promises to be an unprecedented event (more on that later). DC’s Green Lantern is also notable because, frankly, DC needs this to do well. As it stands DC’s only successful movie franchise is the Batman movies, and that just isn’t enough. The Superman reboot was a disappointment, and I think they are waiting to see how Green Lantern does before committing to any other characters (Though I think Neil Patrick Harris in a Flash movie would be a license to print money, but that’s just me). So with 8 months or so before any of these movies come out, I’m going to put in my two cents about how I think they look.

Thor (5/6/2011)

Though I've always been interested in Norse Mythology I've never had much use for Marvel's Thor. I never really liked the idea of Gods being on the same team as mere mortals. Regardless, Thor is a longtime Avenger so it's necessary for him to be in the Avenger's movie. Of the three movies coming out next year, this one has me the most doubtful, mainly because of this picture:

It's that damn gold eye patch! My favorite depiction of Odin is Neil Gaiman's shifty grifter. I know it's dumb to expect Hollywood to tone anything down, but all these gold costumes make me wary. It just comes off as corny to me. The thing about movies about Gods or superheroes, it is very easy to resort to corniness, regardless of how good your actors are.

Right, Ralph?

So, let's look at the actors. Chris Hemsworth was good in Star Trek, and he seems like he'll be fine as Thor. Anthony Hopkins is a great actor, but I'm afraid he'll ham it up as Odin. I don't know any thing about Tom Hiddleston, but he looks like he could pass as a villainous Loki. Natalie Portman is good in everything she does though I am discouraged by Kat Denning playing her less hot, sarcastic best friend. It seems cliched to me, but we'll see. Rene Russo, who hasn't been in a movie since 2005, decided to come back to play Frigga, Thor's step mommy. Clark Gregg is back as Agent Coulson. I like this character and I'm glad to see that he's a thread that connects all the films. Finally, the great Ray Stevenson is filling the very big shoes of Volstagg. Ever since Rome I've liked Ray Stevenson. I don't care what you say, Punisher: War Zone wasn't that bad. There! I said it!

Especially if you like ham!

So I still have mixed feelings about this movie. It has a solid cast, but so has several disappointing blockbuster. Remember Troy? Yeah, it's probably best if you don't. It too had a promising cast. The thing that might save it (other than Natalie Portman being cute as a button) is the inclusion of SHIELD, and the tying into the Marvel Universe as a whole. Seriously, if Marvel pulls this off, it could be a game changer. Only time will tell.
Excitement Level: Going on a blind date with a sorority girl who may turn out to be ugly and dumb, but there's promise of group action that you just can't pass up.

Green Lantern (6/17/2011)

As I said above, DC needs this. When it comes to theatrical releases, Marvel is owning them worse than the Hulk would own Green Arrow (trust me, that's bad). Sure some people say that Christopher Nolan's Batman movies are the best superhero movies ever made, and they may be right, but that's all DC has. The thing is, they have some great characters that would make for fantastic movies, Green Lantern being one of them. At first I was disappointed that Ryan Reynolds would play Hal Jordan, thinking it should be Nathan Fillion, but after seeing the trailer, I think
he'll pull it off. The thing is, Hal Jordan isn't the most liked character. He' has no real personality, cocky being his most defining characteristic. He's probably the superhero most likely to slap a woman on the ass and tell her to go cook him a steak. Ryan Reynolds has made a career of being that kind of character, but likable. Heck, he even made The Proposal bearable.

Unfortunately, you can't win them all

Even watching the trailer, I my trepidations were slightly abated when I Reynolds spoke his lines. He's just so likable. Does that sound gay? I don't care. As for the other characters, the preview just gave brief shots of Mark Strong as Sinestro and Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond. Both of those guys are solid actors, even if they did look a little silly all done up. The other lanterns all look great, especially Kilowag. Blake Lively is playing the love interest, Carol Ferris. I don't understand why they insisted on hiring a blond to play a brunette. They do it all the time! It's as annoying now as it was when they made Kirsten Dunst a redhead:

Wait, what was I talking about?

The special effects look like they're going to be impressive enough. I'm worried about his costume being CGI. It makes sense, as it's generated by his ring, so it would be all glowy and stuff, but it could easily come off looking stupid. Also, I'm afraid that they're trying to cram too much into the movie. The preview showed him getting the ring, learning his powers, going to Oa, as well as some Hector Hammond business. Hopefully all this stuff fits O.K. and the movie doesn't feel rushed.
Excitement Level: Going on a blind date with an aspiring actress. You know things are going to look awesome, but it may turn out to be a crazy and confusing time.

Captain America: The First Avenger (7/22/2011)

This movie is the one I know the least about, but have the highest expectations for. This movie has the potential to be very good. First of all, it will be set during WW2 and is about a skinny little nerd who volunteers to be experimented on for his country. Also it addresses the creation of SHIELD, including Nick Fury and Howard Stark. Throw in the fantastic Hugo Weaving as the villain Red Skull, this could be a fantastic movie. Or it could be crap. It depends how seriously they take it. I hope they don't decide to make the WW2 scenes all slick and CGI as tends to the case with comic book movies. If they instead make it a good war movie that happens to star a super human soldier, the movie will be much better for it. I'm thinking make it like Band of Brothers but Captain Winters is a super powered badass.
So what about the casting? I was doubtful when I heard Chris Evans would be playing Steve Rogers, but to be perfectly honest, none of the other names that were thrown around sounded that good either. John Krasinski? Dane Cook? Nope. Though it is weird that the guy who played Johnny Storm is going to play Captain America, I am all for completely forgetting that movie even existed. Besides, Chris Evans was the best part of that movie. In fact, he's pretty much the best part of every movie he's in; Not Another Teen Movie, Losers, Sunshine and Scott Pilgrim versus the World, he was the best part of all of them. So I like Chris Evans a lot, that might seem gay (sorry Ryan), but it's not.

There's nothing gay about any of this.

So what about the other cast? I already mentioned Hugo Weaving. He's plays a great villain and I trust him not to ham up Red Skull too much. Speaking of ham, I'm hoping Tommy Lee Jones wants to forget his Two Face roll as much as the rest of us, he'll probably be solid in this too. As will Samuel Jackson and Stanley Tucci. Hey! Neal McDonough (from Band of Brothers) will be Dum Dum Dugan! He'll keep them on track! Score!
We know how it's going to end. Rogers gets frozen and thawed out in present day to form the Avengers. Again, I hope this movie is good just so the Avengers movie will work. It will be tricky. It has to be patriotic without being cheesy. So the jury really is still out on this one. My hopes are up, but years of disappointment just won't let them get too high. We shall see.
Excitement Level: Going on a date with a girl who all your friends have nothing but nice things to say about, and from a distance she looks awesome, but you know she was involved in a pretty nasty four-way that she'd rather forget about.